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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Treats Friend's Kitchen Like an All-You-Can Eat Buffet

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who will help herself to anything in my fridge, pantry, etc. without asking. She also will eat most if not all food that's meant to be shared, such as appetizers and snacks at a social gathering. Once she literally polished off an entire plate of appetizers before my guests arrived and I had nothing to feed them.

After she finishes the food, she often says, "Oh, I was starving!" I find myself hiding food from her when she comes over, or delaying putting treats out for guests until later in the party.

The most recent episode was when I was preparing food for my toddler. While it was cooling on the counter, she helped herself to all of it. She told me afterward she had consumed it.

So you see -- nothing is safe, not even a child's meal. Abby, how can I tell her what she's doing is wrong and rude? -- STUMPED IN STUDIO CITY, CALIF.

DEAR STUMPED: Your friend may be a compulsive eater, but that's no excuse for what she has been doing. Tell her in plain English that you don't like it when she helps herself to food without first asking, or hogging it when it has been prepared for a party.

Taking something that was meant for your toddler was over the top. Say that if she's feeling "starved" when she's headed for your house, she should have a snack to take the edge off before arriving. And if you see less of her because of your frankness, consider yourself lucky.

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